The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has adopted an official hymn for the first time in the Alliance’s history.
The hymn has long been associated with NATO but has only now become officially acknowledged by the union.
It has no lyrics and is scored for twenty musical instruments: piccolo, flute, oboe, three clarinets, three saxophones, two cornets, two trumpets, horn, baritone horn, three trombones, tuba, and snare drum.
Listen to the hymn in full below:
The campaign to assign an official hymn to NATO has a long and surprising history.
The earliest proposals for a NATO hymn can be traced back to the late 1950s when various composers began eagerly submitting music in the hope of seeing it officially crowned in time for the 10th anniversary of the Alliance in 1959.
In 1958, British composer Thomas Hildebrand Preston, O.B.E. wrote a NATO ceremonial march originally meant to accompany visitors to NATO Headquarters at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.
The following year, a “NATO Song,” composed by Captain Hans Lorenz of the German Air Force with lyrics by Captain Stephanus van Dam of the Netherlands and Leon van Leeuwen of the United States, was presented by an orchestra and a chorus at the NATO 10th anniversary pageant.
British Air Marshall Sir Edward Chilton proposed a more democratic solution for a NATO anthem.
The composition arranged by Squadron Leader J.L. Wallace merged all the national anthems of the-then 15 member states.
However, it wasn't until 1989 when the music that would go on to become the official NATO hymn was composed.
To celebrate NATO’s 40th Anniversary a large NATO choir sang "The Atlantic Hymn" by José Ludovice and the Luxembourg Military Band played a “NATO anthem,” composed by its director Captain André Reichling.
You can view the sheet music for this composition below:
This composition proved most successful of all and was played at many NATO events, becoming NATO’s de facto hymn for nearly thirty years.
Since then it has been played at many NATO events, including the most recent meeting of Allied Heads of State and Government in May 2017.
After a long journey, this piece of music has finally become the official "NATO Hymn" when the North Atlantic Council approved it on 3 January 2018.